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Thursday, 22 May 2014

41. The Brooks by George Forrest

When the war ended my father returned from his army service and a short while later we moved back into Tower Road, a bit further up the road this time. This changed my area of play, new friends and neighbours, new places to explore and things to learn. The area we knew as "The Brooks" was close at hand, a way into the country side. The brooks started at the end of Tower Road, where Carnforth Road now begins,no more buildings, just fields. The boundary to the open fields was Cokeham Lane and this had a long line of large elm trees, sadly now gone. Cokeham Lane at the bottom end was no more than a track which ended with a solid white gate at the railway line. On the south side of the railway line on what has become a much larger industrial estate were a couple of businesses, I can recall Solarbo, Lancing Packers and I believe Manhattan kitchens , I believe the correct name was Robinsons, A number of people from Tower Road worked there and rather then take the long way round, illegally crossed the line by climbing over the gate. I know a number of people with a criminal record, having been caught trespassing by the British Transport Police were taken to court..
The Brooks consisted mainly of fields, some of which were planted but mostly because of the streams crossing them, not suitable for crops I believe there were two streams, one I know would have been the Teville Stream, not sure about the other. It was new world to me, and I spent a lot of time there just meandering , catching sticklebacks and frogs in the streams, and watching nature. Many happy days and memories.
One such memory I recall was on a bright,warm summers day, three or four of us were just wandering, doing nothing in particular, walking down beside a hedge came to a gate, originally a five barred gate, a little dilapidated , but still substantial enough. Any way, me being me, showing off decided that I would try to vault the gate. I was fitter then and managed it. Over he gate and in mid air I looked down at my landing spot, the grass flattened by other people using the gate had become the ideal spot for a huge snake to do a bit of sunbathing. . It was the largest snake I had ever seen outside of a zoo. A while ago a newspaper cartoonist named Styx, drew characters running in midair. That was me. Gravity being what it is though I managed to land astride the snake and was immediately making haste to get away. Poor snake was probably just as startled. I ran. The other lads caught me up, but were still laughing. I was told later that it was undoubtedly a female grass snake and probably pregnant. I was not waiting to find out, it was a big snake that was enough.
Most definitely a case of look before you leap. It didn't deter me from going down to the brooks and I spent many more happy days there. Hope you can laugh at this as I now can.

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